The second-ever USA College Challenge took place in late October at the University of Southern California (USC). Thanks to the fastest 1000 in the country this year (9:11.68) by Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky, and plenty of other top swimmers, the Pac-12 team actually beat Team USA in the swimming event.
According to Swimming World, in addition to Stanford’s Ledecky, Kathleen Baker from the University of California, Berkeley and Louise Hansson from USC helped the Pac-12 defeat Team USA 326.5 to 286.5.
The average person swims inside a pool about six times a year, but these top swimming competitors spend countless hours training and competing in pools across the country and the globe.
Team USA won the inaugural College Challenge last year as they beat the Big Ten in Indianapolis.
Many of the swimmers are teammates on International levels and found themselves facing off against some of their closest friends and teammates.
“It was weird stepping up next to them, especially for last 800 free relay,” said Ella Eastin, a Stanford swimmer. “We’ve competed in Nationals so it’s not something completely new, but it is weird, especially at a dual meet.”
Though the competition was filled with everyone swimming as fast as they can — it was all in good fun.
“We don’t all get to be together at the same meet very often, it’s usually in summers,” said Abbey Weitzeil. “So it was fun to be together and race with or against each other.”
This year’s Challenge saw 29 USA National Team swimmers take on Pac-12 Conference all-stars. Non-collegiate National Team members who place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd earned $500, $300, and $100, respectively, and relays split the prize money four-ways.